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Journalist unions condemn detention of Palestinian journalist in Gaza

June 14, 2017 5:54 P.M. (Updated: June 14, 2017 5:54 P.M.)
Photo of journalist Fouad Jaradeh, detained in Gaza on June 8. (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) in denouncing Hamas’ continued detention of a Palestinian journalist in Gaza, according to a statement released by IFJ on Tuesday. 

"We strongly stand by our Palestinian colleagues from the PJS,” IFJ President Philippe Leruth said in the statement, and urged Hamas to release Fouad Jaradeh, a correspondent for the Palestinian Authority (PA)-run Palestine TV. 

On June 8, Hamas’ security forces raided Jaradeh’s home and asked him to bring his computer and mobile phone with him, Jaradeh’s wife told PJS, promising to free him within an hour. However, he has since remained in detention “without justification” or knowledge of what he has been accused. 

"Hamas security forces must stop preying on Gaza journalists and systematically violating their fundamental rights," Leruth added. 

PJS also condemned the “continuous detention of journalists by Hamas security forces without giving reasons,” adding that such policies were an “outrageous” violation of international law, and that the group would present the case to the Palestinian Authority for Citizens' Rights (PCHR) in order to ensure his release. 

The arrest came less than a week after a group of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip rallied to demand the release of Abdullah Abu Sharikh, a 54-year-old Palestinian writer who was detained by Gaza security forces, allegedly over remarks he made on Facebook, according to his family.

Meanwhile, Palestine TV journalist Taghrid Abu Tir spent 10 days in Hamas custody in April.

Hamas has stifled dissident voices in the blockaded Palestinian territory since the faction won general elections in 2006 and became the ruling party in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (Mada), documented a total of 48 violations by authorities in the Gaza Strip against media freedoms in 2016 in its annual report, which highlighted incidents of security forces inflicting “certain types of torture” against Palestinian journalists during their detentions.

A continuation of Palestinian authorities -- both in Gaza and the West Bank, which is governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority -- “prosecuting journalists in relation to their publications on social media sites,” was also reported.

Political divisions between Fatah and Hamas since conflict broke out between the groups in 2007 were cited as the major reason behind media violations.

Mada’s monthly report for May 2017 documented 18 Palestinian violations against media freedoms -- up from eight the previous month -- though all of May’s violations occurred in the occupied West Bank.

Rights groups have continued to criticize the PA and Hamas of suppressing both freedom of press and freedom of speech.

Both governments have been the focus of condemnation for targeting Palestinian journalists who openly criticize authorities.
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